Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History

Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History

In the spirit of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Onion Field, Norco ’80 is a gripping true crime account of one of the most violent bank heists in US history.Norco ’80 tells the story of how five heavily-armed young men—led by an apocalyptic born-again Christian—attempted a bank robbery that turned into one of the most violent criminal events in U.S. history, forever ch...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History
Author:Peter Houlahan
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History Reviews

  • Kerri

    I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. This story provides further proof that truth is stranger than fiction. From the beginning, it engages the reader and doesn't let go; narrative writing at its finest. I lived in the midwest and was in my teens during the time of this crime and trial and I don't remember hearing anything about it, so I was fascinated by the entire tale. It was especially enlightening reading about how this one crime impacted law enforcement, particularly the militariza

    I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. This story provides further proof that truth is stranger than fiction. From the beginning, it engages the reader and doesn't let go; narrative writing at its finest. I lived in the midwest and was in my teens during the time of this crime and trial and I don't remember hearing anything about it, so I was fascinated by the entire tale. It was especially enlightening reading about how this one crime impacted law enforcement, particularly the militarization of it, nationwide.

    There were several times where I felt completely lost and couldn't keep the moving pieces straight (and I am a careful reader), but that just shows how convoluted the entire episode was from the planning of the crime through the outcome of the trial; that the author could make sense of any of it, and manage to make it into a coherent story, speaks volumes. I can't even imagine what Mr. Houlahan's white board/bulletin board/post-it note tree, or whatever he used to connect the dots, looked like. I highly recommend this book!

  • Kristin

    Norco ’80 is one hell-raising ride through 1970’s Southern California with an apocalyptic prophet and the prosecutors bent on turning the tables on the policemen involved in the most violent bank heist ever committed on American soil. From the minute you meet the charismatic George Smith and his flunky friend Christopher Harven, you’ll be hanging on for dear life, waiting for the next catastrophe to take your breath away with each heart-breaking turn of the page. It’s part law and part order and

    Norco ’80 is one hell-raising ride through 1970’s Southern California with an apocalyptic prophet and the prosecutors bent on turning the tables on the policemen involved in the most violent bank heist ever committed on American soil. From the minute you meet the charismatic George Smith and his flunky friend Christopher Harven, you’ll be hanging on for dear life, waiting for the next catastrophe to take your breath away with each heart-breaking turn of the page. It’s part law and part order and it’s outstanding!

  • Amanda

    4.5 stars rounding up - what a wild story from the robbery all the way through the trial. I had never heard of it before. The writing makes you feel like you’re right there throughout the whole robbery and chase. Really well done. I need a Netflix doc on this!!

  • OutlawPoet

    Oh, this book was all kinds of amazing!

    Even though I'm from Southern California, I'd never heard of the Norco bank robbery. I figured it was before my time, but my parents hadn't heard of it either. Reading, this, I don't know how we missed it.

    This is one exciting read.

    While the author takes some liberties here and there with the feelings of some of our participants (like one dying young man was thinking/feeling), those liberties are logical.

    The book is well researched, but honestly reads like

    Oh, this book was all kinds of amazing!

    Even though I'm from Southern California, I'd never heard of the Norco bank robbery. I figured it was before my time, but my parents hadn't heard of it either. Reading, this, I don't know how we missed it.

    This is one exciting read.

    While the author takes some liberties here and there with the feelings of some of our participants (like one dying young man was thinking/feeling), those liberties are logical.

    The book is well researched, but honestly reads like a movie. I could see people getting shot, feel the whiz of bullets as they narrowly missed other characters, and my heart was pounding like crazy.

    A fabulous book that inspired me to learn even more about what happened (and more about a serial killer and a cult I'd never heard of before).

    Excellent!

  • Donna

    The jaw-dropping account of how 5 bank robbers armed to the teeth with military grade weapons - automatic weapons, homemade bombs, Molotov cocktails, and a samurai sword robbed a bank in the rural town of Norco (Riverside County) California in 1980 and subsequently led police on a wild pursuit. Thousands of rounds were fired during the chase, putting police and civilians in harm's way along the rural roads of Riverside, on the freeway and up into the nearby mountains. 30+ police vehicles were sh

    The jaw-dropping account of how 5 bank robbers armed to the teeth with military grade weapons - automatic weapons, homemade bombs, Molotov cocktails, and a samurai sword robbed a bank in the rural town of Norco (Riverside County) California in 1980 and subsequently led police on a wild pursuit. Thousands of rounds were fired during the chase, putting police and civilians in harm's way along the rural roads of Riverside, on the freeway and up into the nearby mountains. 30+ police vehicles were shot up, a helicopter shot out of the sky, and tragically, a police officer killed in the shoot-out. Houlhan's research meticulously takes us from the reasons for the hold-up (the robbers' belief that the rapture was coming and they needed to get the hell out of California), to the pursuit of the robbers up to the San Bernardino mountains. The second half of the book is equally gripping as the author explains how the criminal trial became a circus as the defense lawyers used questionable tactics, made ridiculous claims, and engaged in outright lies to try and get their clients off the hook if not out of the gas chamber. A must read for any one who is interested in true crime narratives, police procedure, or true-life cops and robbers stories -- or questions why police departments today use military grade equipment in their line of work.

  • Lori

    This is a remarkable book, the true story of a bank robbery in Norco, California, in Riverside County by five men, some of them religious Christians convinced the end times were coming. Two lived together in a house in Norco where they were digging trenches and fencing the perimeter of their property with barbed wire preparing for marauders to come for their caches of food, weapons and supplies. They were late on the mortgage, owed child support so there may have been a mixed motive for the bank

    This is a remarkable book, the true story of a bank robbery in Norco, California, in Riverside County by five men, some of them religious Christians convinced the end times were coming. Two lived together in a house in Norco where they were digging trenches and fencing the perimeter of their property with barbed wire preparing for marauders to come for their caches of food, weapons and supplies. They were late on the mortgage, owed child support so there may have been a mixed motive for the bank robbery. Either way it turned into one of the largest crime scenes ever, in the bank and then when they tried to get away spreading out over forty miles, in two different counties, Riverside and San Bernadino, with police departments from both and sheriff's officers from both, helicopters and a chase that ended up with them driving up a single-file road in the San Gabriel mountains, a national park, with forty police cars from the four jurisdictions and California Highway Patrol lined up behind them and the four remaining perps firing away. The officer in the lead car was killed. The suspects fled into the chaparral and were tracked by helicopter, dogs and SWAT teams.

    They had assault rifles. The alpha in the group, a Vietnam vet, had altered them so they could shoot more ammo faster. They had pipe bombs, other bombs and homemade grenades. They didn't need the internet because there was a book that gave detailed instructions on how to make bombs and grenades. They had timed out the bank robbery but messed up, one guarding a door wasn't and more people came in, a silent alarm set off by a teller went to the wrong city. The bank didn't even have much money. So many things went wrong it's incredible that only one person was killed.

    They messed up getting their getaway cars and ended up kidnapping at gunpoint the owner of a bright yellow truck. His legs were bound with duct tape and eventually, because the police couldn't be sure he was a victim or a perp, he had to roll his way through an intersection over to them. This is when things go really wrong and the crime scene gets very spread out. There are officers at the bank, where one perp lies dead at the wheel of their van. And now they're traveling in suburban neighborhoods and on the highway in a bright yellow truck with two guys standing up in the back shooting thousands of rounds of ammo indiscriminately and the others shooting from the windows. They shot around twenty-five police officers. They hit a boy riding his bicycle with his friends ("clipped his finger," the author says, which I assume is an injury?). They hit a girl whose dad was giving her a driving lesson. They put thousands of bullets into thirty-three police cars that were destroyed. They shot at the helicopter.

    Throughout the crime, which is the first half of the book, the police did their best in an utterly chaotic situation. They had so many limitations but the biggest one was they did not have assault rifles. They had small handguns. This is the case that resulted in officers nationwide being armed with assault rifles. The robbery happened the same year PTSD was added to the psychiatric DSM manual and this is the crime that brought to light how utterly unequipped law enforcement entities nationwide were to deal with PTSD when it manifested in their officers. That too would change as a result of the Norco robbery.

    Peter Houlahan does an amazing job of bringing the reader into every part of the forty-mile crime scene. The book reads like a movie but a movie could never do it justice because it was so spread out and chaotic. It's his first book but he's written articles and is an EMT in Newtown, CT whose unit responded to the Sandy Hook school shooting, although their services weren't needed when they arrived. He has also studied PTSD. You have to read the book to see how this crime unfolds, it's so unreal but all too real.

    The second part deals with the trial and for a little while I was getting bored and wondering why but then it all came together.. The three captured (two died) were tried together with separate attorneys. The trial lasted a year not counting the penalty phase, and what Houlahan chooses to bring forth makes that section well worth it. The author is so gifted the book unfolds as if it's written itself. He is at all times master of the material. Like the crime, you've got to read what he tells us about the trial because the truth is so much stranger than fiction. There are a few things so shocking that even though this happened I won't give them away here. Mostly I was incredulous at how the defense attorneys treated the cops on the stand. These men had been through a crime the likes of which has never been seen. Many were wounded. Some watched their friend die. It's very relevant to today because there is so much attention paid to mistakes the police make -- and they do, horrible ones -- and here they did too but it's so clear everyone did the best they could in the worst of circumstances. In the end we learn how some fared. No one came away unscathed. And the criminals, unrepentant and self-righteous throughout, trying to game the system, having no respect for life or property all the while proclaiming their faith. You won't read another book like this because there's never been a crime like this and because Houlahan tells a very complex story in an organized and compulsively readable way.

    My review hasn't done "Norco '80" justice. The book is that good. As long as my review is, I haven't even scratched the surface. I wasn't sure it was a book for me, and the material is disturbing in many ways, but I'm very glad I read it. I encourage everyone who is interested in true crime, religious fanatics who justify violence,, sociology or anyone looking for a great read, one you won't want to put down, to go for it.

  • Debbie Rose

    Given the evidence available to you, I appreciate you being an impartial writer...WELL DONE.

    From one who lived it,

    Debbie Rose

    Investigator Asst. to Jeanne Painter

  • Kathleen

    The blame begins with the huge eruption of Mount St. Helens. George Wayne Smith (age 29) and Chris Haven (age 27) were convinced that the eruption announced the coming rapture as predicted in the Book of Revelations. Their apostolic faith convinced them that the end was near and that they needed to move to the mountains in order to survive the coming chaos. Both of them were ex-military and stockpiled a huge supply of weapons, homemade grenades and ammunition to prepare for the coming apocalypse

    The blame begins with the huge eruption of Mount St. Helens. George Wayne Smith (age 29) and Chris Haven (age 27) were convinced that the eruption announced the coming rapture as predicted in the Book of Revelations. Their apostolic faith convinced them that the end was near and that they needed to move to the mountains in order to survive the coming chaos. Both of them were ex-military and stockpiled a huge supply of weapons, homemade grenades and ammunition to prepare for the coming apocalypse. One thing they lacked—money for the move.

    So—these two guys convinced their friends, Belisaro and Manuel Delgado, and Chris’ brother, Russell, to join them in robbing the Security Pacific Bank. Unfortunately, an employee from the bank across the street saw the masked men entering the bank and quickly called police. What ensues is Fargo-esque as events flew out of control. Total chaos ensued with the five robbers spraying hundreds of rounds of ammunition at the responding police in an area full of civilians. The miracle is that there were not more deaths and casualties. But there were still plenty—two of the perpetrators and one Sheriff’s deputy were killed, another 9 wounded, over 30 police cars were damaged, and even one helicopter was downed.

    The bank robbers were forced to steal a second truck when their first one was damaged. They were able to escape Riverside County and entered San Bernardino County with multiple police officers from multiple jurisdictions in hot pursuit. Eventually they reached the mountains and proceeded on foot. They were caught the next day.

    The second part of the book focuses on the trial for the three remaining robbers. It was not your usual criminal trial! The Defense Attorneys presented numerous audacious theories and verbally fought with the presiding judge. And then there was the case of the Defenses’ investigator falling in love with George Wayne Smith. [I’m sure that will turn out well! Not!]

    Recommend this true crime tale that defies believability.

  • Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: A well-written account of a dramatic true crime.

    This is the story of a 1980 bank robbery in Norco, California. Committed by five men almost on a whim, this poorly planned robbery led to a terrifying car chase and fire fight. The chase was made particularly dangerous by the superior weapons possessed by the robbers. The subsequent trial was a huge spectacle. In several ways, it was less of a foregone conclusion than you might think. The relationship between attorneys was also incredibly

    Summary: A well-written account of a dramatic true crime.

    This is the story of a 1980 bank robbery in Norco, California. Committed by five men almost on a whim, this poorly planned robbery led to a terrifying car chase and fire fight. The chase was made particularly dangerous by the superior weapons possessed by the robbers. The subsequent trial was a huge spectacle. In several ways, it was less of a foregone conclusion than you might think. The relationship between attorneys was also incredibly contentious, with insults and even pencils thrown by both sides as the trial dragged on.

    This book did pretty much everything right. The story was certainly chosen well. The pursuit of the bank robbers and the following trial were both dramatic events. The writing made the story personal by giving us background on the police, robbers, and civilians involved. I occasionally found it a little difficult to keep track of the many cops involved and would have appreciated a cast list. This wasn't bad though. The author gave enough background on each person to be interesting, without being overwhelming. He also did a good job focusing on the key players. The descriptions of the fighting, the car chase, and the court case were all equally well done. The author made it easy to visualize the action. He then highlighted some entertaining moments of the very long trial.

    I do have two small complaints. First, I thought we lingered a little too much on people being shot. It felt like the author was gratuitously working hard to add drama when the events were dramatic enough already. And second, although the author's note initially impressed me with a stated commitment to accuracy, it eventually becomes clear that the author is sharing the thoughts of people who were never available for interviews. These bits are unnecessary embellishments of an account that otherwise seems well-researched. I would have appreciated it if the author had called them out.

    With those two tiny caveats, I found this an enjoyable read. I think any fan of true crime will find what they're looking for here.

  • Jan

    This is one of the best books of its sort I have ever read. Well done, Peter Houlahan. What a heartbreak. I lived a very unexciting life within ten miles of where all this went down, and I was completely unaware of all of it until now.

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.